Top 9 Things to Do in Guilin

Written by Sally Guo Updated Apr. 7, 2021

Guilin is well-known thanks to its unique Karst landform and as a stopping-off point before visiting Yangshuo and other nearby areas. Of course, Yangshuo plays a key role in trip planning but other areas around Guilin should be included in any visit. Based on our local knowledge these are the top things to do in Guilin.

1. Visiting The Li River

Hiking along Li River

The Li River is the main reason for people to travel to Guilin. The cruise from Guilin City to Yangshuo on the Li River is 83 km of uniquely beautiful karst landscape. Taking the Li River cruise is the best way to enjoy this natural beauty.

The peaks stretch along the river create interesting stories: fishermen ride bamboo rafts to catch fish and each turn of the river offers a surprise, making the 4-hour cruise enjoyable.

There are Three Ways to Visit the Li River

Plan A. Take a luxury cruise boat from Guilin to Yangshuo Town 

Plan B. Take a Motorized Bamboo Raft in Xingping (1.5 hours)

The section of the Li River from Yangdi town to Xingping town is considered the soul of this landscape, and this is a great way to get up close to the Li River.

Note: for safety consideration, children that less than 7 years old or below 1.2 meters high, and seniors over 70 years old are not allowed to take the bamboo raft.

Plan C. Hiking along Li River

For anyone who wants to see the Li River in a different way, this is a good choice, you will not only see the river but acknowledge the local lifestyles and tranquil countryside scenery.

Hiking Route: Xianggong Hill (Putao town) → Lengshui Ferry Boat (5km, 2 hours ) → Nine Horses Fresco Hill →Xingping Town (5km, 2 hours )(tickets for Xianggong Hill and ferry boat are included).

2. Enjoying the Beautiful Scenery at Longji Terraced Fields

Longji Terraced Field

Longji Terraced Fields are in Longsheng County, 77 km away from Guilin. The highest point is 1,180 meters above sea level and the lowest is 380 meters. The area includes 3 main terraced fields, Jinkeng, Ping’An, and Gu Zhuangzhai Village.

Each has its own specialty. Ping’An was the first to be developed and is also the location of the famous attraction—Seven Stars Accompanying the Moon. Jinkeng is a village home to the Red Yao Ethnic group. The terraced fields are surrounded by mountains that look like a natural hole. A cable car is available at Jinkeng. The Terraced fields at Gu Zhuangzhai are dotted with ancient stilted houses and there are 7 houses over 100 years old.

Ping'an and Jinkeng are very commercial while Gu Zhuangzhai still keeps the natural appearance. 2 days of hiking is recommended. May and October are the best time to visit there when offering lots of photo opportunities.

3. Marvelling at the Reed Flute Cave

the Reed Flute Cave

Reed Flute Cave is the most notable cave of the many in Guilin. It is located on the side of the Taohua River and about 6 km away from the city center.

Known as the Palace of Natural Arts, the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites in the huge cave are sit in a spectacular way that seems to bring them to life. Each has its own story and a guide will be helpful to explain the stories. The cave is very impressive, and the lighting and multimedia shows are surprisingly well done. Allow 1 1/2 hours for a visit.

4. Watching Impression of Liusanjie

Impression of Liusanjie

Impressions of Liusanjie is the largest show performed in the natural landscape in the world. It is directed by Zhang Yimou who also directed the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

There are almost 600 actors who are all local villagers. It uses both the Li River and its bank as its stage and tells a love story of Liu Sanjie who was a very famous figure in the local folklore. Watching this show in this environment is considered to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

5. Cycling around Yangshuo Countryside

Cycling around Yangshuo Countryside

Yangshuo has some of the area's most beautiful landscapes and biking is a popular way to enjoy the scenery and get a close look at rural China. The route is about 20 km long; taking in Moon Hill, passing Gong Nong Bridge and the Yulong River, or going to the small old villages of Yima and Jiuxian.

Bike renting is available everywhere in Yangshou for about 20 Yuan/bike a day. When booking with, a biking tour will include a local family visit to allow customers a deeper insight into the local life of the villagers.

6. Cooking Chinese Dishes in Yangshuo

Cooking Chinese Dishes in Yangshuo

Chinese cooking classes are very popular among foreign travelers in Yangshuo. China Travel will select one of the best Chinese restaurants offering delicious local dishes in Yangshuo, which is conveniently located on the busy West Street.

The chef not only teaches you how to cook but also talks about Chinese culture and takes you to the local farmer's market to see what the Chinese eat daily. Each student cooks their dishes and then enjoys their own labor by eating the result.

7. Learning Tai Chi in Yangshuo

Learning Tai Chi

Learning Tai Chi can be an interesting activity for foreign people. A Taichi school in Yima Village of Yangshuo County is very popular. It is around 20 minutes from the county by bike. The school is located in an old-style house in a beautiful setting.

Teachers are passionate but easy-going. They are happy to talk about Taichi and Chinese culture. They provide teaching at different levels and the class times are flexible according to students' requirements. Many consider it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

8. Visiting a Minority Family — Making Oil Tea or Bamboo Rice

Making Bamboo Rice

Bamboo stuffed rice is a landmark food in Longji. The ingredients include rice, corn, taro, and pork, stuffed in a 20cm (8in) long bamboo stem, then roast on a fire shelf. Local people will show you every step of how to make it. It will take 40 minutes to cook and you can get a chance to chat with the family and walk around their old wooden house.

Oil tea is a typical drink among Yao ethnic villages, particularly for those who live in the mountain area. It can quench thirst and cure rheumatism in humid mountain areas. Visiting a Yao family in Longji and learning how to make oil tea is an excellent way to experience local life.

9. Exploring The Daxu Old Village

The Daxu Old Village

Daxu ancient town was a floury trade exchange center in the past decades and many tradesmen settled down for several generations. Now the younger generation mostly moves out for better job opportunities, while the older prefer to live in the old town, selling souvenirs and taking care of their fields, thus the traditional handicrafts still can be seen today.

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